Starbucks: Plastic straws will be eliminated from stores by 2020

Courtesy of Starbucks

Courtesy of Starbucks

Starbucks is among several major companies that have announced measures to cut plastic waste.

Starbucks is going strawless.

Customers in Seattle and Vancouver, Canada, will be the first to see the new lids beginning this fall, with phased rollouts within the United States and Canada in 2019. The lids will become standard for all iced drinks except Frappuccino, which will still have a domed lid but be served with a paper straw or one made of compostable material.

"Starbucks decision to phase out single-use plastic straws is a shining example of the important role that companies can play in stemming the tide of ocean plastic", Nicholas Mallos, director of Ocean Conservancy's Trash Free Seas program said. According to a report by Swiss non-profit World Economic Forum, by the year 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

Today's announcement of the plastic straw ban is part of the company's $10 million campaign to be more environmentally responsible with their packaging. The company also will provide, by request, straws made from what the company calls "alternative materials" such as paper or compostable plastic for Frappucino blended beverages.

"Most people don't know this but plastic straws are not recyclable", said Bellefontaine.

"This move is an answer to our own partners about what we can do to reduce the need for straws", said Colleen Chapman, vice president of Starbucks global social impact overseeing sustainability.

Allison Frankton from Christchurch is passionate about the environment, but she also wants to use a plastic straw. Right out of the gate, the bar and concert venue made a decision to offer paper straws instead of plastic ones. McDonald's said earlier this year that it would stop using plastic straws at all of its stores in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The coffee chain is the latest big company to acknowledge the environmental threat plastic straws pose and promise to implement an alternative in the face of mounting public pressure.

The no-straw movement, which had already been brewing in certain communities and beach towns, gained mainstream traction three years ago after a video showing a sea turtle with a plastic straw wedged in its nose went viral. But I do hope the move does not make Starbucks (or its customers) complacent in the battle against all plastic pollution, particularly that which is caused by their single-use disposable coffee cups.